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National air traffic control switches to virtual desktops and flash storage

NATS new cloud infrastructure promises significant savings and better performance

UK air traffic control organisation NATS says it will save millions of pounds with the help of a virtual desktop and flash-based data storage system for its new cloud infrastructure.

NATS has gone to Violin Memory for its flash memory array technology to support its forthcoming 6,000 seat virtualised desktop infrastructure (VDI) rollout.

NATS is transferring all of its desktop IT services to a cloud-based infrastructure. By creating a virtual desktop environment NATS expects to reduce costs by £9 million over the next four years, shrink its environmental footprint, improve flexibility, meet operational SLAs and deliver an improved quality of service to users.

NATS said the cloud infrastructure will deliver improved collaboration between NATS staff and business partners across NATS locations, over multiple geographic regions. NATS said staff would "have access to the services, information and applications they need for their particular role, creating a customised experience".

The system will be supported by Violin Memory 6000 Series flash memory arrays. Gavin Walker, CIO at NATS, said, "To cater for the heavy loads generated by boot storms and logoff periods, a traditional storage area network (SAN) based solution would have required many shelves of disks, consumed more power, required significant cooling and incurred higher maintenance costs."

Walker said the Violin Memory system would provide a "resilient architecture, avoiding single points of failure".

In other flash storage industry news, IBM is acquiring flash memory system provider Texas Memory Systems, in a move that will augment Big Blue's line of storage and data centre systems with solid state technology.

Analyst IDC estimates that by 2016 enterprise systems will procure nearly three exabytes, or one billion gigabytes, of solid state storage a year.

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